…Urges FG to prioritise journalist safety


By Chukwuma Umeorah

“Between May 2023 and April 2024, there have been at least 45 attacks on journalists and media houses.” This is according to a report by Media Rights Agenda (MRA) revealing alarming statistics detailing the state of media freedom in Nigeria during President Bola Tinubu’s first year in office.

In commemoration of World Press Freedom Day 2024, MRA, International Press Centre (IPC), Global Rights group and Centre for Media and  Society (CEMESO)  expressed concern over the consistent attacks on journalists in Nigeria and called on President Tinubu to prioritize the safety of journalists to ensure freedom of press as embodied within the tenet of the constitution.

MRA’s Executive Director, Edetaen Ojo, speaking at the event said that “The trend of violence and intimidation against journalists, manifested in arbitrary arrests, detention, kidnappings, threats, battery, and even fatal attacks. Victims of these assaults include both male and female journalists, as well as media houses targeted for invasion.”

He added that of the documented attacks, 82 percent targeted male journalists, while 9 percent targeted female journalists. Additionally, 9 percent of the attacks were directed at media houses or organizations. Perpetrators of these assaults varied, with law enforcement and security agencies accounting for 62 percent of the attacks, followed by hoodlums and thugs at 16 percent, and unidentified individuals at 15 percent.

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“Shockingly, none of the perpetrators have faced accountability, perpetuating a culture of impunity,” Ojo decried.

Lanre Arogundade, the Director of IPC, noted that in a similar report monitored by its organization, there were 33 cases of attacks involving 44 journalists and 6 cases involving media organizations.

“Lagos, Abuja and Kano are states with most reported cases. Other states under our radar include, Kaduna, Plateau, Edo, Yobe, Nasarawa, Rivers, Ogun, Bauchi, Anambra, Ondo, Bayelsa, Oyo, Kogi, Katsina, and Zamfara.”

In response to these alarming findings, the media rights groups proposes collaborative efforts among media professionals and civil society organizations, development of more effective tools for tracking and responding to attacks, as well as advocating for legislation to protect journalists in line with international standards.

They urged all stakeholders to share information and support each other during times of crisis. The organizations revealed that they are collectively working on the establishment of a national mechanism on the safety of journalists, which would ensure accountability for attacks against journalists and the abuse of power involved.

This is  even as they proposed the creation of an industry-wide legal assistance program supported by a dedicated fund, with the aim of challenging any attack on journalists or media organizations.